Friday 16 October 2009

Sainsbury's Beer Competition

I don’t buy many beers in the supermarket anymore. There are a few which I pick up whenever I see them, the others I get when I want a specific beer. The supermarket is now the place for me to get those everyday drinking beers, just like it’s the place where I get my everyday eating stuff. But how can I resist a beer competition, eh?

Part of me wanted to buy a bottle of each beer in Sainsbury’s competition, part of me didn’t. The part that did wanted to do so out of pure thirsty curiosity, for the tick and the scoop. The part that didn’t feared a line-up of average beers. In the end I didn’t buy them all. What I did do, of course, was stock up on BrewDog’s, happy to see 7% and 9% uber-hoppy beers on the supermarket shelf for a little as £1.29, significantly reduced if it’s 3 for 2 (I also saw it for £1.59 and on a 4 for 3).

Williams Bros did pretty well in the competition, getting four beers out there. It seems that every other blogger got sent free bottles to review. I didn’t. I paid for mine. To be honest, I found an underlying earthy smokiness (the water, perhaps) which wasn't quite to my taste and left me a little disappointed overall, which was a real shame. These are not bad beers at all, it’s just that I’d heard a lot about them recently and they didn’t live up to my expectation. The 80/- was a little unsatisfying but I’d definitely try the lager again though and I should've picked up an IPA (Midnight Sun is a cracker and I want to try some more of their historical beers). Williams are definitely a brewery to keep an eye on, I think.

I thought Wood’s Shropshire Lass, hopped with Fuggles and Cascades and dressed in a decidedly effeminate yellow and lilac outfit, was pretty good - fruity and very drinkable - and I’d like to try it on cask. I also had a couple of darker beers too. Wolf’s Woild Moild was decent enough and Allgates' Porteresque was roasty but I thought it was a little too thin and sharp, nice earthy bitterness though. For me, the best beer in the festival – by a long way - was Chaos Theory. It’s a fabulous beer and when it’s opened as fresh as a daisy it’s a real bitter-fruity bomb. I like it a lot.

I hope the competition was a success for Sainsbury’s and I hope that it made people buy and try new beers. I hope this opened a few minds to the different craft beers being brewed in the UK and I hope it will encourage them to drink differently. I hope that the BrewDog’s didn’t scare too many normal people and I hope that Chaos Theory gets a year long run. I hope that more supermarkets attempt a similar thing and I hope that in the future the Sainsbury’s beer competition will run and that the supermarkets will be able to put the bottles on the beer aisle, rather than with the barbeques or the tins of Christmas chocolates, which are almost impossible to find.

While we’re on supermarket beer, I found 77 lager, zeitgeist, Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale and Gonzo Imperial Porter in Tesco at last. I’m very happy to see all of these in the supermarket, especially if the Tesco also stocks Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, some Chimays and Orval. The Classic Pale Ale was one of the nicest bottles of everyday drinking beer I’ve had in a while and the Gonzo was really very good indeed (bold, smooth, chocolatey, rich, nibbling hops) – I just need to find a Tesco near me which sells them because they are ones to keep in the fridge.

I’ve written about supermarket beer before, here and here. Oh, and that image at the top is Brewdog's from the post I linked to above.



  2. Haha, I didn't pay for mine either Mark! Except for a Wolf Whistle that Wolf Brewery kindly helped out with, as it wasn't in our local store.

    We're half way through a series on the Sainsbury's beers, so I won't ruin it for anyone who is reading our posts, but my personal favourite was one of the Williams Bros beers, with Chaos Theory and Golden Hare by Bath Ales following close behind.

    Pick a Williams IPA too, it's not bad.

    For once I actually wish there was a Tesco nearer my house, especially if there's Orval, SNPA. I can recommend Bargain Madness if anyone has one of them nearby too, Celebration Ale is about 69p a bottle and they often have very, very cheap bottles of quality beer and real ale from lots of top lass breweries.

  3. As much as i love the brewdog beers i really loved Hambleton's Taylors Tipple and actually preffered it to the brewdog ones.

    I can see why it won (along with the bath one) as to most ale drinkers they are probably more drinkable.

    most people i know are put off by the strength on the bottle so that stops them buying it.

    Either way i too hope they keep stocking beers and trying new things, a seasonal ale section instead of just the 1 seasonal ale that morrisons do, would kick arse so fingers crossed they cotton on

    as for other supermarket beers - our local tesco is pretty crap, although it does have a couple of great local ales. The big tesco superstore near work is fantastic, that does the flying dog etc, i'll try to get a pic of the aisle next time i am in there.

    What i am finding is that the cheaper shops in town are getting some amazing beers in - mainly near the end of the BB date but who cares??

    in the last couple of weeks ive bought a couple of cases of SN celebration ale, Dr Okells IPA, Leffe Brunette amongst others (blog post coming later)

    The woman in the shop said that there was only 2 people she had seen buy the celebration - me and what turned out to be my dad! it seems other people had been put off by the logo more than anything - fools don't know what they are missing.


    Ps i didn't get any freebies either (boo hiss!!)

  4. "The supermarket is now the place for me to get those everyday drinking beers" - So how many days a week would you say you didnt drink a beer of some sort?

    I generally manage 2-3, I bought the 80/ and already had the brewdog stuff. The 80/ was alright, but Bath are probably one of the most underrated brewers about.

  5. Yellow and lilac effeminate? Colour-blind more like.

  6. You're a bit lagging here aren't you Mark? The competition finished last month.

    Sadly neither Brewdog or the Williams brothers won. I wonder if they'd both had less beers in final they'd have done better?

  7. Brewdog not winning the Sainsbury's beer competition is a complete travesty. Between myself, my girlfriend and my fellow 3 co-brewers, I estimated we bought approximately 150 bottles in one month. Not including lovely freebies sent out either...

  8. Woah, so I am late on this one!! I guessed the competition had finished because the bottles have gone, but I didn't know they'd announced a winner. Way to go Sainsbury's, really plug your competition winners! From comments I'm guessing Hambleton and Bath won?

    Mark, Bath Ales do some good beers, I've enjoyed every bottle I've had from them.

    Moggy, I can understand why they won: they fit in. I read your post about cheap beer in shops. I don't think I've had Celebration Ale but for 69p (or however much it is) I'd buy quite a few if I saw it! I'm dropping into the biggest Tesco near me (it's about a minute drive from beermerchants HQ!) to hopefully get some Orval and others, although not seen 77 and Flying Dog in there yet.

    Dan, I usually try to have 3-4 days without drinking a week, although that's slipped away a bit recently, although it's been whisky and not beer in the evenings the last few weeks (mainly because most bottles I have in the flat atm are 10%+ stouts or big bottles made for sharing).

    Barm, amen.

    Ed, you might be right about them perhaps having more success if they'd only had one beer, who knows.

    Dominic, that's heroic beer buying! Make sure Pint gets in next year ;) And make sure some bottles make it down to me sometime (I'll buy whatever you've got to sell me - although John Clarke says there's some good stuff on the way...).

    I am now only have a 77 and a zeitgeist left in my 'everyday drinking beers' set. Time for a shop, I think.

    Happy weekend everyone! Drink well.

  9. Yes, it was Bath Ales Golden Hare and Hambleton Ales Taylor’s Tipple that won, though Sainsbury's seem to have got bored by the time the winners were chosen and haven't exactly announced it with a fanfare.

  10. Nope - I didnt pay for mie either, it was good old fashioned beer hunting that serves me well...